Freedom Square of Seminole, Florida, has had one of the most devastating outbreaks of COVID-19 in the state since the beginning of the pandemic, with forty (40) deaths. Nine months since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, over 19,000 Floridians have died as a result of the virus. Source.
Freedom Square is a 15-acre retirement complex built around a town square and gazebo in Seminole, Florida, and was the early epicenter for the virus in the Tampa Bay area. As early as April, when the virus was beginning to emerge in full force in Florida, the staff at Freedom Square were begging managers for proper protection, equipment, and regular testing. Instead of meeting the needs of staff and residents, the facility continued to accept new hospital patients for rehab, even though they were not being tested for the virus up until April 9.
For almost a week, Freedom Square kept their first positive cases, and first COVID-19-related death, quiet. By the end of April, over half of the residents had tested positive. Deaths occurred in waves as residents were sent to hospitals and hospices across the county. Many of those who died simply gave up, refusing to take medication, and calling their family members to say goodbye as the isolation and uncertainty finally took their toll.
The following statement was provided by Michael Mason, Executive Director of Freedom Square:
“Our residents’ and staff’s health is, and always has been, our number one priority. We are fully committed to the health and well-being of everyone in our community – employees and residents alike. We will continue to do all in our power to keep and maintain a safe and healthy environment here at Freedom Square.”
Despite this statement, the deaths speak for themselves and Freedom Square has been sued by at least two of the families who lost loved ones.
According to staff (former and current) and residents, concerns about the pandemic were not taken seriously by management, proper testing protocols were not put in place in a timely manner, and communication between families and the community was chaotic.
Nursing homes and retirement communities should be a safe place, and all proper precautions must be taken in order to protect residents and staff, especially when the elderly are among the most vulnerable population for this virus. Unfortunately, as was the case with Freedom Square, these communities are not always safe. If your loved one has suffered like the residents of Freedom Square, and you want to seek justice, contact the personal injury attorneys at Beltz & Beltz.
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